The story of Yeonmi Park is one of despair, fear and ultimately, hope; in her Amazon released book, In Order to Live, A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom, Park details her escape from North Korea, her story of persecution, and her escape from further imprisonment and sexual torture. Park’s story brings hope to the millions of people who continue to live through famine and poverty.
Park’s story, begins with her escape from North Korea with her mother, after agreeing to be smuggled to China. Park was excited to leave, and was looking forward to a new life ahead. Unfortunately, the man who helped smuggle Park turned on her, and demanded that Park have sex with him. Park’s mother sacrificed herself instead, and they were both taken to the smuggler’s home. The smuggler’s wife took kindly to both Park and her mother, and allowed them to stay. Although compassion was initially shown, Yeonmi Park’s mother was sold to be a bride, but Park was not allowed to leave.
Park was repeatedly under the threat of rape, to the point where she threatened suicide. The smuggler, in fear that Park would go through with suicide, offered to bring her mother back, under the condition that Yeonmi became his mistress. At Yeonmi’s request, Park’s father was smuggled across the border in order to stay with Park, but he succumbed to cancer only a few months later. Park and her mother then went to Mongolia, en-route to South Korea. Park was finally able voice her story, in hopes of educating others about the horrors she experienced.
Although Park’s story has enthralled many, North Korea has taken strides to question its legitimacy. The North Korean government produced propaganda which according to the NK News claimed that Park and her mother were American Agents who were asked to vilify North Korea. Park continues to defend her story, stating that key parts were changed in order to protect her loved ones, and to maintain her own innocence. Regardless of what was changed, Park’s story brings hope to North Korean refugees who have hopes of a better life. Park’s book sheds light on a critical human rights issue which is often overlooked, and Park hopes that more people know about the suffering of North Korean refugees and prisoners.